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He said, “The LORD roars from Zion And from Jerusalem He utters His voice; And the shepherds’ pasture grounds mourn, And the summit of Carmel dries up” (Amos 1:2 NASB)

As I meditate on the profound words of Amos 1:2, I am forever mesmerized by the depth of relationship God wishes to have with men. Zion, in scripture, refers to a very specific dynamic in our relationship with God – that of the divine appointment that we might not just want, but yearn, or as the original Hebrew dictates “to thirst”, for a deepening relationship with Him.

But our task does not end there. We seek our Lord with a purpose. What is that purpose? In Amos’ prophetic declaration, it was the combining of wills – of the church’s and God’s – that the oppressors that feasted on the humble of Israel would be overcome. Shepherds in the Hebrew of this text refer not to loving stewards of sheep, as we often conjure, but exploitative taskmasters on the fertile hills of Mount Carmel, known literally as “God’s vineyard.”

Mount Carmel, Israel

The fertile slopes of Mount Carmel, Israel

There are many people in life we could identify as oppressors. But what is an oppressor? I prayed about this for a while, and the Lord said something very interesting in response: “An oppressor is one who gains harmony only through [relational] retreat.” I ask the Lord what this meant. He responded, “To rule without becoming an oppressor, one must have a fervent life of prayer, or the trust you develop with others will eventually be null and void. If one does not trust you, then your stewardship becomes meaningless [(oppressive)].”

How does prayer prevent mistrust? His response: “A sound knowledge of God will allow you to establish Truth with your opponent. Your opponent is blind, this is why they cannot see you. The knowledge of God paves the way for conviction, a holy conviction that eats away at distrust and creates a yearning for connection. I birth that connection in the hearts of men. It was fashioned this way from the beginning. I have allowed “manufactured peace” [oppression] on Earth, so that those who know Me might extinguish it, as true peace inspires connection, not conformity.”